what's in season: may

© British Asparagus
The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May.
Sir Thomas Malory - Le Morte d'Arthur (1485)

Out with the old and in with the new . . . most of our winter crops are coming to and end and stores of fruit and vegetables are dwindling. But British seasonal foods are just beginning to come into their own.

I'm not a particularly patriotic person; you will never see me wearing a Union Jack t-shirt (although maybe some Union Jack slippers), but I will admit to feeling a faint stirring of something when I first saw the enormous UJ bunting decorating Regent Street in London recently (up for for the Royal Wedding) . . . although that could have been due to indigestion. But I will definitely give a big old whoop and a cheer for glorious British asparagus, a very short but sweet season of six to eight weeks.

May is also excellent for new potatoes; (look out for Jersey Royals). Outdoor-reared spring lamb appears later this month and May is also a good month for the first of the year’s herbs, such as chervil and parsley.

vegetables, herbs and wild greens:
artichokes (globe), asparagus, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli (purple sprouting), broom buds, cabbages (various varieties), carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, chives, fat hen, hogweed shoots, garlic, hop shoots, lettuce, meadowsweet, mint, morel mushrooms, parsley, morels, radishes, samphire, sea kale, sea spinach, sorrel, spring onions, turnips, watercress, wild fennel, wild garlic (ransoms), wild rocket

fruit and nuts:
apples, cherries, gooseberries, pears, rhubarb

meat and game:beef, chicken, duck, lamb, mutton, pork, turkey, wood pigeon

fish and shellfish:crab (spider), freshwater crayfish, cuttlefish, herring, lemon sole, mackerel, mullet, pilchards, pollack, prawns, salmon (wild), sardines, sea bass, sea trout, shrimp


Food Glorious Food! said...

British asparagus.... sweet with a great crunch... It's really hard to come by in this of my world... wish I am there..

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

I adore it too . . . slighty nutty too. Having said that I like all asparagus, so don't be too downhearted. Besides you get fabulous stuff in your neck of the woods :)

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...


Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Argh Dom, you worried me there for a minute. I thought I was doing an AWT (Anthony Worrall Thompson) - he recommended we eat henbane (which is poisonous) rather than the more people-friendly fat hen!

Giant hogweed is nasty stuff and should be avoided at all costs. But Common Hogweed is fine (a member of the carrot family) . . . I consulted my bible of all things wild and edible, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, and he recommends eating the young shoots. Good in soups or a frittata!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Oh and I found this on the Guardian website about the Eastern European relationship with hogweed . . . quite interesting! http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/mar/15/foodanddrink.travelfoodanddrink?INTCMP=SRCH